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The Dangers of Using Old Contact Lenses

While it may sound tempting to try and wear your two-week contacts for a month or more, this can put your eye health at risk and it is something that all eye care specialists strongly advise against.

Wearing contacts is beneficial for many people, and nearly 37 million Americans currently wear them. However, contacts require care to ensure they work correctly and not cause damage to your eyes. While it may sound tempting to try and wear your two-week contacts for a month or more, this can put your eye health at risk and it is something that all eye care specialists strongly advise against.

There are many different types of contacts and all have their own recommended wear times. The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises contact wearers to replace their lenses as recommended by the packaged expiration date. This means that one-month contacts should be discarded a month from when the package was opened, even if you only wore them half of that time.

The Risk of Wearing Old Contact Lenses

Because contacts touch the surface of your eye, expired contacts and lax hygiene can combine to cause an infection. The CDC reports nearly a million eye infections every year, with many related to contacts. Some infections can also become serious enough to damage your vision and create additional problems that could have been prevented with replacement and cleaning.

If you have contacts that have been sitting for several years, you should also keep in mind that the solution they are in might be expired as well. The expired solution can create a pH imbalance that can go on to cause discomfort and infection. While this may seem like a rare case, many people don’t know that old contacts, even when stored, have an expiration date that should be abided by.

Similarly, if you are using two-week contacts and only plan on wearing them once per week, it’s easy to assume that you can use them for 14 weeks as opposed to the recommended 14 days. This is a common misconception and eye care specialists recommend against it. You might think you’ll be saving money, but since lenses can begin to break down after their recommended use date, they can increase your risk of infection.

Using Contacts Over Time

When wearing contacts, they will begin to accumulate protein deposits and germs along the surface, over time this can begin to irritate your eyes. While nightly cleaning with a solution can help remove these deposits, it cannot prolong the life of the lenses and you still need to swap them out for a new pair after their date is up.

Additionally, most prescriptions expire yearly making it essential that you schedule and attend your annual eye exam. While it might sound tedious, these visits help ensure that your prescription hasn’t changed and that you are free from vision problems or additional eye health problems. Eye exams are also a great place to ask your eye care specialists any questions you might have and about how you can best care for and use your contacts.

When it comes to eye care, you can never be too careful. Because our eyes are such an important part of our bodies, making sure that they stay healthy should be one of your top priorities. If you’re currently using contacts past their expiration date, consider switching to a pair of eyeglasses if you have them, and schedule an appointment with your eye care provider today so that you can get new lenses as soon as possible.